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Student Profiles

Student life at oxford Student Life Oxford University seeks to attract the best and brightest students. It's accessible to all students of talent and ability, irrespective of background. Below are some profiles of current (and recent) undergraduate students taking Computer Science.

You can find out more about members of the Department, including tutors and lecturers, here. You can also read up on why our current students chose Oxford to study Computer Science, and about their experiences of the application process. Students talk about their summer internship experiences here.

Alice Henshaw

Alice Henshaw

Computer Science
Balliol College

What is the best thing about studying Computer Science at Balliol?

Balliol has got both incredible computer science tutors, who've taught me so much of what I know over the last 3 years, and also one of the most welcoming atmospheres among students I've ever come across. Coming to Balliol I was nervous about the prospect of making new friends alongside having a large amount of work to do, but the tutors and other students all made this transition incredibly easy. The tutors are always willing to organise extra sessions outside of tutorials if you need it, and every student in the college is unbelievably friendly and welcoming. I was especially surprised by how sociable the other students in college are, as that isn't the reputation that Oxford and computer science often have – so please don't let those stereotypes put you off.

What advice would you give prospective applicants for your course?

Make sure you're not looking to do a large amount of practical programming. At Oxford we do programming but we also study the theory of Computer Science. I personally find that learning the theoretical side to the subject helps massively when it comes to writing efficient and well-constructed programs, however if what you are after is a degree focused on programming, then Oxford may not be the place for you.

Matthew Hillman

Mathematics & Computer Science
Balliol College

What is the best thing about studying Maths & Computer Science at Balliol?

When I was applying to study Mathematics and Computer Science, I was worried that I might feel a little bit out of place in both departments. At Balliol, this is certainly not the case. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming. What's more, most of the in-college social events for the departments are actually run jointly for mathematicians and computer scientists anyway.

The tutors at Balliol are incredibly helpful - the subjects are both challenging, but the tutors do an excellent job of highlighting important material and explaining it a way that makes it easier to understand.

In my opinion, the subject choice gives you the best of both worlds. On the maths side, you get to do all of the pure maths modules and only miss out on the applied maths modules. On the computing side, you do the theoretical and programming modules and don't do the more practical modules. In later years, you get more choice in the modules you do so when you find out which you're more interested in, you can choose to focus on it.

I've always loved both maths and computing, and doing these courses at Balliol is an excellent way to explore these subjects in great detail.

What advice would you give prospective applicants for your course?

If you can't decide whether to do maths or computer science, just do both! The combined course is great fun and gives you a broader knowledge than doing just one of the two.

Tiffany Duneau

Computer Science & Philosophy
Balliol College

What is the best thing about studying Computer Science & Philosophy at Balliol?

Although I am the only person in my year studying Computer Science and Philosophy at Balliol I have not had any trouble meeting new people and forming close friendships with many people here, as well as being able to meet the others on my course that are at different colleges. (One great thing about being on such a small course overall, is that everyone knows each other). On the flip side, that does mean that most people have never heard of the course at all, but getting past the 'but how exactly does your degree work together?' questions in freshers' week was definitely a worthwhile challenge, as I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time here at Balliol studying Computer Science and Philosophy.

The tutors are really great and approachable, and do an amazing job of patching up our understanding when understanding the week's material didn't go that well, and the informal atmosphere avoids making things as awkward as you might expect, with two students face to face with a leading researcher.

The best aspect of the course is probably that both halves are so different (and yet also very interconnected), so I can 'take a break' from trying to figure out how Oberon (an obscure programming language we use in second term) works, and instead question whether I would survive being teleported to Mars.

What advice would you give prospective applicants for your course?

The main thing I would recommend to do is to try reading about parts of philosophy that seem particularly interesting to you - I chose to focus on Turing since his work relates to both Computer Science and Philosophy. It's also worth trying your hand at some coding to get a feel for what parts of the course will be like. I had never really studied philosophy before getting here, and didn't have a great deal of experience with programming, but that has not been an issue at all since no lectures or courses presume prior knowledge.

Kai Laddiman

Third year Maths and Computer Science
St John's College

Maria Mateescu

Maria Mateescu Computer Science 2013–2016
Magdalen College

I come from Romania where I studied at Colegiul National "Emil Racovita" Iasi. I took the Romanian Bacalaureate where I achieved 92.4% of the 80% required. I knew I wanted to study Computer Science rather early on.

I think the most fantastic thing for me about the course is the focus on theoretical knowledge. I loved the Algorithms part above all. There is nothing more exciting than being faced with a puzzle and finding a method to solve it. I am among those Computer Scientists who do not particularly like computers, as in the hardware side. For me it is enough to know that it is a black box which does what I tell it to do.

When it comes to Clubs, Societies and all, Oxford has it all. If it doesn't already have it, you will find enough people to make it. Personally I got involved in all the kind of societies. I ended up playing in a musical organized by the Oxford University Light Entertainment Society; went raiding collages late in the night with the Assassin's Guild; played various characters in the Oxford University RPG[Role Playing Game] Society games and ended up organizing next year's game; became the Oxford University Computer Society secretary; played Poohsticks on the bridges of Addison's Walk.... There are endless possibilities and the people here are so diverse it is impossible not to find people you enjoy yourself with (as long as you go searching).

Oxford is the perfect place. It is as diverse as London (maybe even more diverse) and the high concentration of students makes it a rather quirky place. Do not be surprised by people in elf attires running around with plastic lightsabers *cough*.

Chris Kew

Fourth year Computer Science
New College

Chris Kew Before I came to Oxford, I was at Lord Williams's School, an academy school in Thame, England. I did Maths, Further Maths, Physics, and Chemistry over 3 years, since I was recovering from CFS/ME at the beginning of my A-levels. I got A*s in everything but Chemistry, and an A in Chemistry.

I chose computing during the process of writing my personal statement -- I wasn't terribly fixed on course (it was between Comp, Maths, and Physics), and basically chose comp because I had some experience programming, I was bad at experimental work, and I wasn't sure I'd like the level of abstraction in Maths.

Now I am at Oxford I play non-contact ice hockey twice a week. As a non-skater before coming to the university, this took a bit of learning (and a few bruises...) I currently play drum in the ceilidh band, I'm also now band treasurer, and I've learned to play bridge.

Robert Bastian

Robert Bastian Fourth year Computer Science
Oriel College

I'm German and took my Abitur at a Gymnasium in Germany. My Leistungskurse (advanced subjects) were English and Maths, and my third and fourth subjects were Computer Science and History. My overall grade was 1.2.

I wanted to study either Computer Science or Maths, however, I didn't really like programming. I eventually decided to do Computer Science at Oxford, because the course is very theoretical, includes a lot of maths and there is a wide range of advanced choices in later years. The tutorial system is a really good way to deepen your understanding of the subjects. Whenever you need help, you can just ask the omniscient computer science wizard in your college and they will take the time to explain it to you.

I really enjoyed the Digital Systems course, because it removed the abstraction of programming for me. The course works through how a computer is built starting at transistors and logic gates and eventually reaching a machine that can run code. From what I heard, people are going into a wide range of sectors after graduating, including (of course) software development, but also finance, consulting and many more. I really haven't made my mind up what I want to do yet, but I think this course will be a great preparation for all of them.

Greg Auger

Greg Auger Computer Science & Philosophy 2012–2015
St John's College

I previously attended Barton Peveril Sixth Form College in Hampshire, England, studying A-levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computing, as well as an Extended Project and Additional Further Maths, Music and Government & Politics at AS level.

Oxford life is fantastically busy with challenging work (but when you enjoy the subject you usually don't mind); socialising (easy when everything and everyone in Oxford is unbelievably close) and taking part in the wealth of extra-curricular fun (currently I'm involved with an orchestra, Christian Union and the Invariants Maths society). As well as the amazing and diverse people and activities that now form my life, I have found the support, teaching and resources provided superb.

Josh Peaker

Josh Peaker Mathematics and Computer Science 2011–2014
University College

I attended Pontefract New College, a state Sixth Form College in West Yorkshire, and achieved A* in Maths and Further Maths A Levels, and an A in Physics. My Economics AS was a B.

I love the way Oxford chooses to teach Computer Science. Whereas other universities focus on just learning several languages, Oxford really focuses on WHY you use them, and teaches how to create computer programs, not in a specific language, as that's the easy part, but in the general ideas.

Oxford's just a busy, hectic, beautiful, brilliant place to live. There are a crazy amount of clubs and societies, for so many things, there's always something going on.

Xavier Wilders

Xavier Wilders Computer Science 2011–2015
St Anne's College

I attended the Ermitage School of France, near Paris, where I took the OIB, a French Baccalaureate.

I did not think I would get into Oxford. My school had never had a student go off to such a high-ranking university.

I've been self-teaching computing since the age of 7. I love the mix of a scientific subject in which creativity is strongly needed to solve problems.

I wanted to study in England, and both Oxford's reputation and tutorial system attracted me.

The best thing about Oxford is the tutorial system, and how easy it is to contact tutors. I would recommend the course to others, as long as they are ready to study CS from a theoretical point of view.

Lukas Bosko

Lukas Bosko Mathematics and Computer Science 2009–2012
Merton College

I am from Slovakia where I studied for an International Baccalaureate, before moving to England to start my degree at Oxford.

The Department of Computer Science offers a unique place for people with broad range of interests and goals, whether in academia or in the private sector. Oxford is academically challenging. Staff and professors are always supportive and the environment is very professional.

All the courses are very well organised and the lecturers readily share all the course materials, which was a great advantage. The atmosphere of the place makes it just a wonderful place to study.

Maths and Computer Science is a degree that can lead into many disciplines. I quickly realised that thanks to optional courses, I will be able to tailor the course in 2nd and 3rd year completely to my needs. I would highly recommend the Maths and Computer Science course - especially to people who want to work in software houses, academia and finance, including investment banks.

Jennifer Hackett

Jennifer Hackett Computer Science 2008–2012
St. Catherine's College

I went to Taunton's, a Sixth Form College in Southampton. I studied Mathematics, Further Maths, Physics and Computing A-level, and Chemistry AS, and I received As in all those subjects.

I chose to study Computer Science because it is a combination of mathematics and computers and has applications for many other fields as well. The Oxford course strikes a balance between theory and practice that appeals to me, although at the time I was deciding, I thought I'd be more interested in the practical side of things, I actually find that I prefer the theory now. The best thing about studying Computer Science at Oxford is the small class size allows for more two-way communication between student and tutor. I've especially enjoyed the Functional Programming and Principles of Programming Languages courses because they broadened the way I think about programs - chiefly, what they are and how they work.

If I could give a prospective student one piece of advice about coming to study Computer Science at Oxford, I'd say don't decide not to apply because you don't think you're good enough - you could be very surprised. Originally I thought I would not be likely to be accepted into Oxford, but I decided to apply anyway, mainly just to see if I could. A friend of mine said that it would be worth it if only so that he could frame the rejection letter! Even if I hadn't managed to get into Oxford, I definitely think I would have benefited just from getting the applications to all the other universities done early, so I had less to worry about down the line.

Lubomir Atanassov

Lubomir Atanassov Mathematics and Computer Science 2009–2012
Balliol College

Before coming to Oxford I studied in my home country, Bulgaria. I attended a specialised mathematical high school.

Where I come from, the name 'Oxford' means a lot. I chose Mathematics and Computer Science as a subject because at high school level I did a lot of Maths, however I felt that there was more to the subject. Computer Science has always fascinated me.

I have found that the best thing about studying at Oxford is the truly unique mixture of people. The facilities available to students and the support we get is amazing. The classes at Oxford are small - and that offers a lot of advantages. The part of the course I most enjoy are the practical sessions, as they help me realise how the material we have covered in lectures could be implemented in practice.

As well as studying, I am the president of the Bulgarian Society, and I am a keen rower. The highlight of my time at Oxford so far was during the Summer Eights (Oxford's biggest inter-college rowing race) when our boat won 'blades'. (Crews who perform particularly well are rewarded with the presentation of their oars – 'blades' – decorated with a record of their achievement.)

Hannah Thomas

Hannah Thomas Mathematics and Computer Science 2008–2012
Worcester College

I'm from a state school in Maidstone, Kent where I studied German, French, Maths and Further Maths for A level.

I'd always been keen on maths and my interest in problem solving and languages led me to Computer Science. After attending an Open Day, I decided Oxford was the place for me: the tutors were so approachable and the course incredibly flexible in the ways you can combine the two subjects. It also did not assume any prior knowledge of Computer Science.

Any initial apprehension I had quickly became unimportant, as it was easy to settle in. I knew deep down this is what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be, in Oxford's beautiful surroundings with a chance to pursue my interests to a high level. Working in small groups with others who are passionate about the subject is a real benefit.

The course has been challenging and exciting, as I have discovered new mathematical 'tools' and ideas and been given a chance to be creative, for example in producing rigorous proofs and algorithms. A lot of ideas now make more sense to me as I am studying topics in more depth.

With the numerous organisations it's been easy to carry on the extra-curricular activities I enjoyed before. I have the privilege of singing as a choral scholar in the 18th Century college chapel, conducting a college choir and playing in the orchestra. Just from being around college I've also been able to meet a wide range of people with different interests and backgrounds.

Another perk to life in Oxford is the great facilities: the halls serving fantastic formal meals and en suite rooms are among these. The college also has a very safe environment making daily life away from home pleasant and easy to cope with.

Anne-Marie Imafidon

Anne-Marie Imafidon Mathematics and Computer Science 2006–2010
Keble College

I went to the Latymer School in East London and took A-levels in Maths, Further Maths, French and ICT and AS-Levels in Further Additional Maths and Physics. I also did the STEP 2 and 3 exams.

I chose Oxford because the course was an even split of both Computer Science and Maths from the beginning, without a bias towards either one. I chose Mathematics and Computer Science because I have always had a keen interest in both and appreciate that they have a very strong link, large areas of overlap, and ultimately mathematics underpins most of Computer Science.

The course has been amazingly flexible and I have enjoyed the benefits of having the best of both worlds: the ability to choose any mathematical module or any computing module to suit my interests. I think Oxford is just the right kind of city to study in; it ensures that you can study without too many distractions, but have fun if you need to relax or unwind.

The highlights of the course have been studying Databases last term and finding out more about robots in the Intelligent Systems module. The variety of topics means you can always find a module that personally interests you. The highlights of being at Oxford, have been the various opportunities to work with really smart people on committees or socially, and also the great resources we have access to including our Careers Service and the Radcliffe Science Library. Lastly the tutorial system means you can get all the help you need and it keeps you on your toes!

In college, I had a role on our JCR committee and I am a member of the Christian Union. I was also the Keble College rep serving on the Mathematics Undergraduate Representative Committee (MURC) and I played on the college netball team.

Dan Surman

Dan Surman Computer Science 2007–2010
Oriel College

I live in a town called Witney, about 20 minutes from Oxford. I attended The Henry Box School, one of the two local comprehensives, and achieved AAAB in maths, f.maths, chemistry, and physics respectively.

I chose the course because I wanted to be taught the principles that underpinned programming languages, allowing me to easily learn new languages when required, as opposed to being taught specific details of individual languages, which I could learn myself.

The course is well structured and well taught, which is fortunate as I find it very demanding.

A particular highlight of the course so far is the Concurrent Programming lecture series which explains how to write programs, using different techniques, that correctly solve problems In the field of concurrency.

As well as studying I also play football for the college first XI, badminton, basketball and pool.

Tom Perry

Tom Perry Computer Science 2006–2010
St John's College

I grew up on the Wirral, near Liverpool, and studied at my local comprehensive where I took Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Biology at A level. By the time I started looking at further education my attention had shifted towards Computer Science.

I chose Oxford because of its tutorial system and its outstanding reputation as a leading institute in Computer Science. Due to my relative lack of knowledge about computers and programming the fact that the course started from basics was an advantage.

The course has proved to be better than I had imagined as it is well structured, giving a good basis in Maths and programming, before broadening to allow you to pursue your fields of choice.

Oxford provides all the benefits of a city university plus, because of the College system, there is a strong community spirit which can be very rewarding to be involved in. I have been involved in many activities included my college and university ballroom dancing team, Welfare Officer for my college, a member of various other societies and an eager supporter of all social activities.

Overall I think Oxford provides the perfect student life and will leave me with many happy memories.